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Review – The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages

August 1, 2006

What librarian wouldn’t be fascinated by a little girl named Dewey? 

So much was I fascinated with her that for days after completing The Green Glass Sea she stayed firmly in my mind.  I imagined what became of her.  Would I recognize her if I read today about her great mechanical accomplishments in an obituary noting the passing of a great woman, a free thinker, a recluse who, I am sure, also befriended all sorts of waifs in need?

I believe that we all have known of Suze, Dewey’s friend, too.  She became, surely of course, a great feminine artist from the American Southwest.  My imagination crackles with excitement over those two girls just as the geiger counters must have in 1945 after “the gadget” was first tried.

Ellen Klages has written a most profound novel.  I will forever ponder if those parents just didn’t really understand “what they were doing” as they built the first nuclear bomb in secluded Los Alamos or even as they smoked Chesterfields seemingly with every breath.

I will always admire Mrs. Gordon, Suze’s mother, for her sympathy and true understanding of not only Dewey’s plight but the repercusions of warfare.  I still will strive to understand how parents reconcile themselves to leaving their children unsupervised and allowed to face life only on their own devices.  But some parents must do that in order to work, not to mention those whose patriotic duty calls them for what is seemingly best for our country.

You must wait until very late in The Green Glass Sea to learn the origin of Dewey’s name as well as the origin of the title too.  But wait.  Its worth it.

Unless you are one of those readers who must read the last chapter first, please don’t do it.  Wait to read Lisa Dugan calling The Green Glass Sea a “fall favorite” in Children’s Bookshelf on July 6, 2006.  Save for later the short story version on Strange Horizons. 

Barely allow yourself to peak at Cory Doctorow’s “Sf story of great note” on Boing Boing from September 2004.  Please, just read the book. Savor the complete story first. 

Experience the wonder of the green glass sea just as Dewey and Suze do.

Ellen Klages won the 2004 Nebula Award for Best Novelette for “Basement Magic” and had previously been nominated for Hugo, Nebula, and Campbell awards.  The Green Glass Sea is expected to be released by Viking Juvenile this fall.  You may also want to read more about Trinitite and Truman, too.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. August 3, 2006 2:49 am

    oh, this is wonderful. you are the second review we’ve seen. thank you!::leaps in delight::

    sharyn november

  2. August 3, 2006 9:09 pm

    sharyn, I leapt in delight when you responded… thank you and Ellen both for such a wonderful book…!!

  3. Jeanette Larson permalink
    September 28, 2006 9:03 am

    I’ll jump in, too. I loved this book. I went to school in New Mexico and have always been fascinated by Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project. Great story!

  4. dallas permalink
    October 11, 2006 12:59 am

    I just finished this book and immediately began searching for when the sequel will come out! Dewey is my new hero, and I also wonder what she and Suze could have done to change the “real” world.

  5. December 4, 2006 4:53 pm

    This is a fabulous read. A friend bought this book for me and never bothered to tell me that it was YA.

    After finishing it, I’m STILL not sure that it’s YA, I just know that my daughter is going to eat it up when I pass it along.

    I think I may draft my first-ever fan letter to Ms. Klages.

  6. Liz permalink
    May 8, 2007 8:54 pm

    does anyone know how kids are liking this? It worked for me, but I wonder if students/kids are picking up on the powerful nuances?

  7. Madeleine Robins permalink
    May 11, 2007 10:29 am

    My own personal 11 year old adores the book, has loaned her copy to everyone she knows, and gives it to friends as birthday presents. I’d call that an endorsement. Granted, she may not understand some of the historical nuances now, but she will–and there’s a peculiar pleasure in re-reading something a few years later and getting even more from it.

    Disclaimer: Ellen is a friend. The book is still wonderful.

  8. August 23, 2007 6:10 pm

    I just finished reading this book last night, way past my normal bedtime, and I can’t stop thinking about it. Ellen Klages was an instructor at a Children’s Writers and Illustrators Workshop a month or so back here in NorCal. There, I thought she was a funny lady who could do improv. I wasn’t expecting to be moved in this way. Great review.

  9. February 23, 2008 6:06 pm

    This book has really changed my life!
    I enjoy other books but ellen has really outdone herself. my birthday was on august 5th which just happens to be suze’s. I can’t wait to finish it, but a book must always end. =C

  10. February 23, 2008 6:09 pm

    by the way, i’m 12 and i will make all my friends read it… ur great!

  11. Laura permalink
    July 26, 2008 8:15 pm

    I was wondering about the age appropriate level of this book. I just finished an email to Ellen Klages asking what ages she thought was appropriate and wanted her to consider the “issues” that go along with my own classroom.

    I hope she replies. It kept me rivited although I knew what they were building and why they got up early. I loved how quietly the radio mentioned what had just happened in Japan. I wondered why it took so long to reveal the real meaning of the title.

    I’m glad I checked her website and saw the sequel will be out in October 08.

  12. August 5, 2008 3:41 pm

    I am still reading this book but so far i loved it. I love how the book is about how her father is un war but her grandmother had a stroke so she has to go to war to see her father she and her father now live in the war

  13. August 23, 2008 10:18 pm

    I was doing some digging on this book for my site, and I found your review very interesting. I thought you might want to check out mine on bookarazzi.blogspot.com.
    -Raechel
    p.s. review will not be up until around august 25th or so.

  14. Jackie permalink
    September 28, 2008 5:41 pm

    This is a great book it is so good it makes you still want to read on

  15. Skyler White permalink
    January 23, 2009 8:34 am

    hey i loved this book when i read it! at first i dont get the overall status but after i read this great book again i relized how fantabulous it really is! i definatly postivly recommend it! :) and if you are interested in LOVE AND ROMANCE books…contact me!

  16. haley permalink
    October 19, 2009 8:51 pm

    hey i ready this book when i was 13, im 14 now and im stil in love with the green glass sea!! GREAT STORY!!! love it!

  17. Amanda permalink
    May 27, 2010 3:41 pm

    I love thgis book SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MUCH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!THIS IS THE BEST BIOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. Toni Mathis permalink
    October 4, 2010 1:59 pm

    I have tried emailing Ellen Klages several times to no avail. I lived in Los Alamos in 43-44-45-46 and am discussing her book this Friday for my granddaughters class, and 5 other classes, all who were assigned the book! I sent my email to ellen@ellenklages.com from a web site. Do you know how I can reach her? Her book was such a factual account!! Thanks, Toni Mathis

  19. November 11, 2010 5:18 pm

    I’m in the minority it seems. I really had to force myself to read this book. Just seemed like the same thing over and over without it going anywhere. I’m honestly surprised that a young reader would find this interesting because the plot is fairly uneventful. I know they do. Thanks for the review!

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